They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and my coffee dealer agrees. But it’s hard to manage a weekday morning when you are not rushing off to work or school or dropping the kids off…you know what I mean. In the hopes of inspiring you to take a day off for brunch, we’ve explored some of Phnom Penh’s swanky new breakfast spots.
The Tiger’s Eye
South African chef Timothy Bruyns is serving some favorites from Common Tiger’s brunch menu, along with some new Western and Asian breakfast dishes at the gastropub incarnation of his restaurant, The Tiger’s Eye. Braised short rib stirred through egg noodles and bok choy with a fried egg on top was excellent, with the tender meat holding itself together just until it’s inside your mouth. Scrambled eggs with toast and bacon isn’t fancy per se, but in-house cured bacon and fresh rye bread made this a satisfying plate, even if the eggs were a bit softer than I prefer.
Tim’s bread — served with lightly smoked butter and vanilla tomato chutney — and his pastries are two things I order every time. When he makes pain au chocolat he folds the dark chocolate with a bit of kaffir lime peel to take it a level beyond anything else in Phnom Penh. The soft-boiled egg with mushrooms on focaccia was almost too pretty to eat, but tasted as good as it looked so keep an eye out for that on their constantly changing menu. At $7 to 8 for most of the breakfast items, it’s not somewhere I will go regularly for a simple egg and toast, but with great views out onto Sothearos and the White Building, it’s a great place to have a leisurely if slightly indulgent morning meal. Breakfast is served until 11 a.m. during the week and 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Monday to Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
49 Sothearos Blvd, Tonle Bassac Phnom Penh
T: 017 876 382
Enso is a new restaurant on Street 240 that everyone is talking about. The menu has a range of international influences — shakshuka and watermelon salad with pomegranates and rose water pointing to the Middle East, avocado “smash” on sourdough evidencing an Australian influence, pancakes for the Americans, and leek pie with smoked salmon and eggs benedict with leg ham to round things (and bellies) out in continental fashion. They also offer a slew of nice juices and smoothies served in mason jars. The breakfast here runs $5 to 7 approximately, and is available all day, which is great, although their more traditional lunch and dinner options are also really delicious.
The “big” breakfast really is huge, with bacon, sausage, eggs, potato cakes, beans and toast, but everything is pretty generously portioned. Our one complaint (ok, two complaints — I hate pitted olives, which is what they use in the shakshuka) is actually Enso’s signature “62 degree” eggs. The idea is that instead of poaching, the eggs are cooked in a sous vide water bath to control the temperature and thus the doneness of the egg. No more overcooked eggs, great! But while very consistent, the whites, which are not completely opaque and a bit runny, are a little less cooked than I prefer, but you can ask for your egg to be fried instead.
Open daily 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., closes at 5 p.m. on Sundays
50 Street 240, Phnom Penh
T: 078 626 240
Black Bambu, a restaurant run by the Cambodian Children’s Fund, is another high-end restaurant that is entering the breakfast game. Their breakfast options are distinctly the least “fancy” of this bunch, but also the cheapest, and there were some surprisingly good dishes to be had. The menu is small and changes regularly, but we had the breakfast taco, a salmon omelette, a Mediterranean scramble, and a goat cheese and mushroom pizza.
The clear loser of the bunch was the small, dry circle of overcooked and under-seasoned eggs studded with chunks of salmon. The clear winner was the pizza (which is also on the lunch menu) and the breakfast taco with chorizo, jicima and salsa. I wouldn’t go out of my way for this one, but for around $4 per plate, if you are in the area and not in the mood to take a gamble on the notoriously dodgy street food on nearby Street 55, it’s a good option.
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
#28 Street 228 (corner of Street 55), Phnom Penh
T: 023 966 895